Fear over bus pass age hike pro­posal

Life­line ser­vices at risk, claims MSP

The Galloway News - - GALLOWAY VIEW - Jackie Grant

Bus ser­vices in the area would be“dec­i­mated”if the age for a free travel pass is raised from 60 to 65, it’s been claimed.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment is con­sult­ing on the pro­posal, which could come into force next year when the women’s state pen­sion age is equalised with men at 65.

But the move is op­posed by MSP Colin Smyth and the South West of Scot­land Trans­port Part­ner­ship (SWes­trans).

Mr Smyth said: “Many bus ser­vices run at a very fine line be­tween be­ing fi­nan­cially vi­able or not.

“If you re­duce the num­ber of peo­ple who can use the bus pass in our area, ser­vices will be dec­i­mated as the in­come for firms will sim­ply not be enough to run many of those ser­vices. For many older peo­ple these ser­vices are a life­line.”

A re­port to go be­fore a SWes­trans meet­ing to­mor­row states that, in Scot­land, a third of bus jour­neys are made by peo­ple with a free pass. But in Dum­fries and Gal­loway the rate is higher, rang­ing from 33 to 99 per cent de­pend­ing on the route.

The re­port adds: “Bus can be the only travel op­tion avail­able for a num­ber of our res­i­dents and pro­vides ac­cess to em­ploy­ment and es­sen­tial ser­vices.”

Trans­port Mi n i s t e r Humza Yousaf launched the con­sul­ta­tion in Au­gust and said steps had to be taken to “en­sure free bus travel can con­tinue to ben­e­fit those who have the great­est need”.

Age Scot­land wants peo­ple to make their views known be­fore the con­sul­ta­tion closes next Fri­day.

Cam­paign Colin Smyth MSP with pen­sion­ers op­posed to in­creas­ing the bus pass age

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